Juan deserves a blog post all to himself because he put in so much work and effort with our team, and he is an incredible young man who became a very good friend and brother to me. Let me share a little bit about Juan.
Juan works for the church, and lives in Medellín. He is also a full time student, studying psychology. He's traveled the world and met thousands of people and had countless experiences with all different ethnicities and religions. He has a story, or more often than not, a song, for everything. And he brings all of that into his passion and expertise.
I am honestly amazed that as our full time translator, he learned all his English from TV and songs and movies. He is very intelligent. When I was there last year, I would pay attention to our translator to listen to the Spanish, even though I was understanding (obviously) the English. But this year, it was different for me, because now I am in school to do some of the very things that Juan was doing. So I paid attention to how he translated, on what he elaborated or adjusted and his expressions. I watched how he articulated and related to the people, and I took in a lot of culture from those observations. A lot of translating has to do with knowing the culture, and Juan certainly knows his community and country. It also amazes me that here I am studying in college to do what he is doing from self-learning.
Juan is loved by the people there and by the team members too. I am sure that if you were to ask each of them their perspective, each of them could give you a different story about Juan. He had a way of relating to each person according to that person's personality and abilities. That is a rare quality. He laughs so much and you can hear his voice from clear across the way. He dances and sings and gets silly but knows when the time is right for serious moments just as well.
Oh, and I cannot neglect to share that he became quite known for, when asked to take a picture for someone, turning it around and taking many selfies with silly faces or snapshotting about 50 photos instead of one (it's no wonder my storage got full by the last night and I had to quick delete some things so I could continue taking pictures). He does take good pictures, but not without adding some of his own flare.
Juan was really good about meeting our team's needs and noticing when things may have been slightly off. He went out of his way to make sure everyone was eating and drinking and learning and growing. When a team member needed something, Juan was quick to find a way to accommodate. The teens there respect him and the kids love him too.
He worked hard alongside us, not just translating but sweating with us, laughing with us, and letting us cry when need be. Perhaps it was because it was my second time there so my eyes and heart were open to new things, or maybe it is because Juan is different from Paola (last year's translator) but I learned different things from him. I took home a lot of lessons from my interactions with Juan, and I am forever a little different because of his friendship. He became as a brother to me.
He is observational and puts that into play in how he teaches and shares and loves and laughs and learns. His love for his country and the people of Brisas is evident in his actions and words.
I admire that he finds ways to translate (which by the way, an unusual occurrence of a team coming in back to back right after us I know had to leave him utterly exhausted because it truly takes so much energy and effort.), go to school, work, have a girlfriend and maintain a life balance. This is why he deserves his own blog post. I am thankful to have a new brother in my corner... and yes, i know that just like my brothers here, he would have my back in a heartbeat. Because that is what brothers do.
|Emma and Juan were having a little jam singing session|
|Then he added a little bit of dancing to it|
|Youth Night, Juan translating|